Latest News

DOH sued over fatal Preston County wreck

KINGWOOD — A woman whose husband and daughter died in a vehicle crash on Bull Run Road is suing the West Virginia Division of Highways.

The lawsuit claims Jason Kichner, 48, and Holly Kirchner, 23, died because of the DOH’s negligence in repairing and maintaining the road. It was filed in Preston County Circuit Court Thursday by attorney David Grunau on behalf of his client, Regan Kirchner.

On May 23, 2020, Jason was driving on Bull Run Road with Holly as his passenger. Suddenly, there was a tree in the road — which the suit states was there for months or years and known about by the DOH, the suit says. 

Jason, who was not using drugs, alcohol, or a cell phone while driving, swerved to avoid the unexpected tree, and went over a cliff, rolling the vehicle. The accident killed the father and daughter, through no fault of the driver, the suit states.

“The deadly accident was entirely foreseeable and avoidable as the DOH knew or should have known of the tree hazard (and other hazards) due to the length of time the tree had been obstructing Bull Run,” the suit says.

In 2016, the Preston County Commission sent a letter to the governor urgently seeking repairs to Bull Run. Friends of Cheat and the Masontown Volunteer Fire Department have also made public statements about the poor condition of the road. However, the suit states, the DOH did nothing about the deep holes and obstructions and Bull Run remained in “shameful and appalling condition.”

The DOH has a duty to maintain roads and protect the driving public and breaching that duty resulted in the untimely deaths of the Kirchners, the suit states. 

“The simple act of removing obstructions, such as the fallen tree described above, would have cost the DOH very little but would have saved the lives of Jason and Holly Kirchner,” the suit says.

The suit seeks compensation for Jason and Holly’s pain and suffering before their death, lost potential earnings, Regan’s grief, sorrow, and suffering, funeral expenses, legal fees and more.

The DOH did not respond to a request for comment in time for this report.

TWEET @DominionPostWV